Thursday 30 June 2011

 

Friends of Al Aqsa Scotland & Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Joint Media Release

UK GOVERNMENT “SILENCING DISSENT” SAY PALESTINE GROUPS

Scots pro-Palestine groups have accused the UK Government of “silencing dissent” over the arrest of a prominent Palestinian Israeli here on a UK speaking tour.

Sheikh Raed Salah had been due to address MPs and members of the public at a House of Commons meeting yesterday, but was arrested by immigration officials late on Tuesday night. It is understood that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, had ordered his exclusion before his arrival in the UK last Saturday but had failed to inform him.

A joint statement by Scots groups, Friends of Al Aqsa, and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, criticised the Home Secretary: “Sheikh Raed Salah is a leading defender of Palestinian rights both within Israel, where he is part of the 20% Palestinian population, and in the Occupied Territories.

“Although the Israeli authorities make his life very difficult, frequently jailing him, they have yet to remove his freedom of speech. His exclusion by the UK government is, however, a clear infringement of his freedom of expression, and an attempt to silence dissent and criticism of their Israeli allies.”

ENDS

Notes for editors:

1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches around Scotland.

For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (default reply to this email)
Website: www.scottishpsc.org.uk

2. Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA)is a UK based non-profit making NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem. Friends of Al-Aqsa was first established in 1997 and now has an international support base.

Website: www.foa.org.uk/

3. See “Leading Palestinian activist arrested in London”

The Guardian, Wednesday 29 June 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/29/sheikh-raed-salah-arrest-london?intcmp=239

4. Shaikh Raed Salah is the Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel. A profile can be accessed here:

http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/resources/fact-sheets/1082-shaikh-raed-salah

 

Monday 20 June 2011

 

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release

 

 

CONTROVERSIAL ISRAEL CHARITY FACES FUNDRAISER PROTEST

Campaigners are set to protest a golf fundraiser for the UK arm of a controversial Israeli organisation tomorrow.

 

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has faced increasing criticism lately over its ownership or control of almost all of the land of the State of Israel, as well as its “land reclamation” projects in Occupied Palestine.

 

According to the JNF, “Its loyalty is given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel... The JNF, in relation to being an owner of land, is not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state… [and] does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”

 

Critics describe JNF practice as racist in its discrimination against non-Jews. Until recently, the JNF had been able to count on the traditional support of the leaders of the UK’s three main political parties. However, David Cameron’s resignation as patron last month saw him join his Labour and Lib Dem counterparts in removing their open support for the UK registered charity.

 

Campaigners from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), who have been protesting the JNF’s annual pro-am golf fundraiser at Bonnyton Golf Club near Glasgow for a number of years, say that support for the tournament has declined annually in proportion to increased condemnation of Israeli policy.

 

The SPSC’s JNF spokesperson, Sofiah Maclead, said, “The JNF is a para-statal organisation that acquires land for Jews only, and assists in the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land.

 

“Originally, few of the golfers understood very much about the racist nature of the organisation that they were fundraising for. Our protest, coupled with Israel’s persistent massacres of Palestinians and aid workers, has resulted in a significant decline in the numbers taking part.”

 

 

ENDS

 

 

Notes for editors:

 

 

1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches around Scotland.

 

For further information, contact:
SPSC JNF spokesperson, Sofiah Maclead: 0131 620 0052; 07931200361

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.scottishpsc.org.uk  

 

 

2. SPSC members and supporters will protest the pro-am golf tournament set for

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Bonnyton Golf Club

Kirktonmoor Road,

Eaglesham,

G76 0QA

MAP: http://tinyurl.com/BonnytonGolfClub

 

 

3. Set up in 1901 to acquire land for a Jewish State in Palestine, since 1953 the Jewish National Fund, (JNF) has operated as a part of the State. Through its ownership of 13% of the land in the state of Israel, and significant control of the Israel Land Authority, the JNF is currently responsible for managing approximately 93% of the total land in the State.

 

The JNF’s constitution explicitly states that JNF land and property is not to be rented, leased, sold, or worked by non-Jews.

 

More info:

 

Stop the JNF Campaign website: www.stopthejnf.org

Stop the JNF Campaign Factsheet: http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/campaignmaterials/stopthejnfcampaignFACTSHEET.pdf

 

 

4. Quote from JNF is a response to Supreme Court Petition H.C. 9205/04, Adalah v. The Israel Land Administration, the Minister of Finance and the Jewish National Fund, Challenging the Prevention of Arab Citizens of Israel from Living on Jewish National Fund Land.

JNF response: http://www.adalah.org/eng/publications/makan/hc9010.pdf ; see par 250

Excerpts from Supreme Court Petition H.C. 9205/04 here: http://www.adalah.org/eng/publications/makan/hc9205.pdf

 

 

5. David Cameron resigns as patron of the Jewish National Fund

Guardian, 29 May 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/may/29/david-cameron-resigns-patron-jnf

 

 

6. On 28th May 2011, Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation, Friends of the Earth Scotland, voted unanimously to support the call for action against the JNF.

 

Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, Stan Blackley, said:

"At today's land rights conference the activities of the JNF were brought to the attention of our members, supporters and interested members of the public. Our organisation is pleased to join the call for the revocation for the JNF's charitable status in the UK and to help raise awareness on this little known issue."

See: http://www.stopthejnf.org/greatbritain_campaignnews_friendsoftheearth28may2011.html

 

 

7. Stop the JNF-UK recently wrote to the Scottish PGA asking them to withdraw their support for the event, but have thus far not received a reply.

The Jewish National Fund is a racist organisation actively participating in Israel's programme of colonisation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid

The Jewish National Fund operates in Israel and more than fifty countries and often enjoys strong political and even financial support from governments through tax-exempt status.  This little-understood organisation is deeply involved in a racist and violent programme of forced population transfer, the practice now known as ethnic cleansing.

BASICS
Throughout all the areas controlled by the Israeli military, the JNF-KKL works to 'redeem' the land. By 'redeem' they mean the transfer of as much land as possible from Palestinian ownership to exclusive Jewish ownership by handing over the land to  the Israeli State or para-statals such as the JNF; thereby denying  use  of  such lands to the native Palestinian people. The land acquired by the Israeli state and the JNF is more often than not taken by force from the Palestinian owners and the inhabitants forcibly evicted from land that they and their families have owned, often for several generations.

jnfebook
The JNF insists on the employment of only Jewish labour on its agricultural landholdings and fines any lessees who violate this rule. Historically, the JNF's insistence on this principle among a largely rural population, and at a time when land was the main means of maintaining a livelihood, was a tactic in the central Zionist policy of forced population transfer against the native population in order to achieve and maintain a Jewish majority.  In more recent times in a situation where Palestinians are the victims of massive discrimination for jobs in the public sector, such policies form an integral part of the Zionist programme to make life sufficiently difficult for Palestinians  that they opt to leave the country .

TODAY
The bare facts concerning the JNF-KKL are disturbing. This registered charity claims 'green' credentials and is directly involved in inflicting intense suffering on Palestinians as part of Israel's ongoing programme of ethnic cleansing. The JNF-KKL is a full partner in campaigns that bulldoze Palestinian homes, evict Palestinians on ethnic grounds to make way for Jewish settlers and deny refugees and displaced persons their basic human rights, including their right to return, an inalienable right under international law.

In open violation of international law, the JNF-KKL operates across the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) and the occupied Golan Heights.

The JNF-KKL

  • is part and parcel  of the Israeli Government
  • reserves virtually all of the land surface of  Israel for Jewish-only residence and bars Palestinian  citizens of Israel from living on it
  • works to obliterate evidence of past and ongoing ethnic cleansing operations of the Israeli State under the cover of benevolent green projects

Consider a situation where Jews or any other minority were forced by state regulation into a small area, say 5%, of your city and forbidden to take up residence outside that zone. This is the reality of Israel today, where the Israeli State enforces the JNF-KKL's discrimination against Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, to systematically exclude them from their land.

Palestinians driven out of Israel in 1948, 1967 or in subsequent campaigns of ethnic cleansing and living in the OPT or in forced exile, can hear from foreigners of the condition of their villages, but may not themselves visit them. The great majority of these ethnically cleansed areas are uninhabited to this day.

In addition, of the minority of Palestinians who were still left inside the borders of Israel when the forced population transfer of 1948 was over, one in four are internally displaced meaning they are unable to reclaim their homes. These Palestinians are able to visit their homes, touch them and provide documentation to prove ownership of them, but they are prevented from returning to them. Their houses are either occupied by Jewish immigrants or destroyed. In the bizarre lexicon of Zionism such Palestinian citizens of Israel whose property was pillaged by the State are known as 'present absentees', on the grounds that they were present inside the State's borders but absent from their home on the day it was seized for exclusively Jewish ownership "in perpetuity".

AIMS AND ORIGINS OF JNF-KKL
The JNF-KKL was founded in 1901 to facilitate the Zionist movement's colonisation of Palestine.  In the peculiar language of Zionism this body "would redeem the land of Israel from foreigners in order to turn it into a national acquisition that would not be for sale..." For the Zionist movement  these words had a special meaning wherein "foreigners" meant the people who had lived and owned the land for generations, "national acquisition" meant reserved for Jewish colonists, and "not for sale" meant that the land so acquired could never to be allowed to be used for the benefit of the native Palestinian population.  In 1907 the JNF-KKL was formally established as an arm of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) and claims to this day to hold all the lands it controls for "the Jewish people in perpetuity".

When some in its ranks suggested that it attempt to register as a charitable body, legal advisors warned that such a move was incompatible with its core aims: "We therefore conclude that the purpose of the Fund will be a political rather than a charitable one and that limiting the Fund's use to strictly charitable purposes would run counter to the main purpose of the Fund."

The purpose of the JNF was, and still is, to 'acquire' land for the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel in historic Palestine; and specifically "for the purpose of settling Jews on such land". Crucially this land could never again be sold or leased to non-Jews. Today the JNF enjoys charitable status in over 50 countries worldwide while their involvement in ethnic cleansing and colonisation is given cover by governments and political figures.

SOME HISTORY
The leaders of the JNF, together with the top Zionist political and military echelons, were committed  to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and developed more than seven plans for how the native Palestinian population were to be transferred prior to 1948.   JNF Head Joseph Weitz anticipated the future wave of ethnic cleansing, confiding brutally in his diary in 1941 that "The land of Israel is not small at all, if only the Arabs were removed". The JNF head, insisted that Jews could "not live here with Arabs."

The JNF-KKL was established as a principle Zionist agency for the colonisation of Palestine. Israel's first Prime Minister made clear the intent of the Zionist movement towards the indigenous Palestinian population and their lands: "If we want Hebrew redemption 100%, then we must have a 100% settlement, a 100% Hebrew farm, and a 100% Hebrew port" (Ben-Gurion, 1936)

The JNF-KKL was actively involved in the process of ethnic cleansing prior to the establishment of the State of Israel out of the ethnic cleansing of 1948.

Weitz was a meticulous bureaucrat and wrote during 1948 that he had "drawn up a list of Arab villages which in my opinion must be cleared out in order to complete Jewish regions...[and] a list of land disputes that must be settled by military means." These 'village files', collected by the JNF, were used by the Zionist leadership in 1948 as a primary source of information which assisted them in their attempts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. The JNF-KKL's Weitz also headed the unofficial "Transfer Committee" set up in May of that year to clear the land of natives for planned Jewish immigration. One of its stated aims was "Destruction of villages as much as possible during military operations" to prevent refugees from returning.

The JNF-KKL's Weitz had been forthright all along, declaring in 1940: "We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries - all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left."  And so it largely came to pass: by massacre, violence and the threat of violence, Zionist militias emptied over 500 Palestinian villages and urban areas.

Large amounts of the land ethnically cleansed in 1948 by Zionist militias was transferred to the JNF-KKL, which trebled its landholdings and established it as  directly 'owning' 17% of the stolen land on which the new state was founded, almost all of it land ethnically cleansed in 1948. The State of Israel followed the JNF principle of not allowing land sales to Palestinians, even the sale back to them of their own land which had been confiscated from them.

A Covenant signed between the JNF-KKL and the Israeli State in 1961 endorsed the JNF's founding view that Israel lands must be owned and used exclusively to benefit Jews, not all Israeli citizens.

ISRAELI APARTHEID, STATE MONOPOLY OF LAND OWNERSHIP AND SEGREGATION
In an ingenious smoke-and-mirrors arrangement, the new Israeli state handed over control of 93% of all land in Israel to the JNF-KKL, enabling the JNF-KKL to maintain the land under its control for exclusive Jewish benefit and to deny basic land rights to non-Jews without direct enforcement by the state or the need for explicitly racist legislation. The maintenance of residential apartheid was left in the hands of the JNF by giving it control of the main state body, the Israel Lands Administration (ILA). Through this arrangement Israel is able to 'legally' subcontract Apartheid policies to the JNF-KKL without replicating the 'petty Apartheid' of South Africa such as  official signage saying 'Jews only' or 'No Arabs' that indicated Apartheid in that context.

In another unique legal arrangement, Israel has set into law a distinction between "nationality" and "citizenship", a distinction existent in no other legal system. The purpose of these seemingly innocuous legal categories is to provide those designated as being of Jewish "nationality" with a set of rights above and beyond those of any other nationality in the country. Israel can thus claim that all citizens are 'equal' while at same time allowing 'national' organizations such as the JNF to privilege Jewish nationals and exclude Arab, Druze or Armenian 'nationalities' from enjoying a whole host or rights, most notably those related to land ownership. For example, tenders for JNF land are only open to Jews. Despite recent challenges to JNF practices in Israeli courts. The JNF-KKL still controls large areas of land in Israel which it openly prevents non-Jewish citizens leasing.

The State exercise of a virtual monopoly of land ownership seems at first sight at odds with the free market economics of Israel's US backers. The explicit purpose of this land ownership regime, however, is racist: to prevent the alienation of any land, whether obtained by fraud, fear or market economics, from Jewish to Palestinian ownership

CRIMES ONGOING
Today the JNF is complicit in Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and of the Golan Heights. In the Jordan Valley, illegally occupied by Israel, and where Palestinians are denied access to land and water, the JNF funds reservoirs and parks for settler use only. In the Golan Heights the JNF is working with the state of Israel to colonise Syrian land illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.

On land across Israel/Palestine that once belonged to thriving Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed, the JNF-KKL runs a string of parks that implicate citizens of many countries in the crimes committed against the people of Palestine. The villagers of what is today the JNF-run British Park were terrorised into leaving in 1948, while in 1967 soldiers under the command of Yitzhak Rabin forced the villagers of 3 villages in the Latrun to leave their villages at gunpoint  and blew up their homes. The area is now run by the JNF-KKL as 'Canada Park' and thousands of non-native pine trees have been planted over the village, concealing any existence of a Palestinian village. This pattern of expulsion, destruction and concealment amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity is replicated in the hundreds of villages that have come under JNF-KKL control.

The JNF-KKL is currently involved in programmes that openly state as their goal the alteration of the ethnic composition of areas in Israel and the OPT.  These include Jerusalem and the Galilee, as well as the ongoing programme of Judaizing the Naqab desert in the south of Israel. In order to facilitate this process, the Israeli Knesset passed the Israeli Land Authority Law in 2009 in which the State of Israel swapped land with the JNF, giving it 50-60,000 dunams of land in areas with a high Palestinian population in order to move Jews into these areas.


JNF flag on heavy machinery demolishing a village in Negev
In 2005, the JNF-KKL initiated the Blueprint Negev, a $600 million dollar project to increase the Jewish population of the area by 500,000. The plan involves the denial of the basic the human rights of the area's non-Jewish population and has resulted in the repeated demolition of Bedouin villages such as Al Araqib and the annual spraying of their field crops from the air with toxic herbicides. Here, the JNF-KKL 's forestation plan is being used as a direct means to 'disappear' existing villages, older than the State of Israel but which the Zionist State has always refused to recognise. No Jewish settlement, however tiny or illegal, is ever denied state services.

The JNF sometimes operates through a front company, Himnuta, to conceal its activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, although it increasingly has thrown aside the mask and operates openly across the entire area of Israeli military control.

In an arid zone such as the Jordan Valley, the JNF works with the Israeli military administration of the West Bank to direct as much of the available water resources as possible to illegal Israeli settlements, and to block Palestinians' traditional access to the water resources essential for their agriculture and survival.

A GREEN AGENDA?
The JNF-KKL claims to be an environmental organisation that raises funds from individuals worldwide to plant huge numbers of trees in Israel in order to "make the desert bloom..." The reality is that the tree planting also serves several sinister purposes. The tree planting programme has always been partly aimed at obliterating the remains of hundreds of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages by planting over them.  More generally the planting of European pine trees to replace indigenous species is part of the European-ization of the actual landscape the Zionist movement encountered when they arrived to colonise Palestine. One result has been that the acidity in the needles of the non-native pines planted has destroyed much of the native vegetation.

Far from the JNF-KKL and "making the desert bloom" as they claim, the tree planting aims to obliterate the remaining signs of what was once a fertile and thriving agricultural society . Many who have had paid to have trees planted in Palestine in their name would not sleep easily at night if they knew the crimes they have been manipulated to cover up. It is not too late even now: anyone who makes the effort can discover the Palestinian villages that sat in the so-called "desert" and were destroyed to make way for a nice park.

The international campaign to challenge the Jewish National Fund sees the JNF as a key institution of Israeli Apartheid, a political system defined by the UN as a crime against humanity. We highlight the intense and incontestable suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people during the colonial settlement of Palestine in which the JNF-KKL continues to play a key role.

The JNF-KKL leaders know what they are doing – they have been doing it for a very long time. They are part of a pitiless programme of ethnic cleansing that, albeit in coded language, they openly plan and execute.

They are, however, vulnerable to public pressure as they have not been before. Although the JNF-KKL's sinister work on the ground in Palestine may not be widely known, the numerous massacres have been noted and Israel's stock has plummeted as a result, a situation the Zionist leaderships have noted with rising concern. As long ago as 2003, well over half of all Europeans thought Israel the "biggest threat to world peace," according to a poll commissioned in October of that year across Europe by the European Commission. That was before Israel's bloody invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the slaughter of hundreds of civilians in Gaza in 2008/9 and the massacres of Turkish aid workers in 2010. A 2007 BBC World Service poll of opinion in 27 countries reported that Israel is viewed more negatively than any other country in the world and "most negatively in the...Middle East, although also in Europe."

Since then Israel has consolidated its status of pariah in world public opinion. (The US and German public opinion are no exceptions, whatever the limits of public political discourse in these two countries.)

That leaves the JNF-KKL vulnerable to a determined political campaign that could culminate in legal challenges in foreign courts.  From the US to Australia, Canada, France, the UK and many other countries around the world come reports of rising and visible protests and campaigns against the JNF-KKL as a central agency of Israel's program of ethnic cleansing.

 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The JNF is a core issue of BDS. It is a unique lever for BDS activists since the JNF is a permanent and long-term feature of the political environment and of Zionist presence in dozens of countries across the planet. JNF offices are known, sponsors of their events are known, and their elite political sponsorships make the organization particularly susceptible to challenges waged through the democratic structures of lobbying, and political campaigning at both government and local council level.

Annual anti-JNF protest at Bonnyton Golf club near Glasgow
The JNF in the UK has just lost the patronage of David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, which means that all three of the leaders of the major British political parties have finally felt the need to distance themselves from this openly racist organisation. Honorary Patronage of the JNF used to be a right of passage that went with those positions and a 110-year unbroken tradition of British Prime Ministerial patronage of the JNF is over.  It is now vulnerable to public exposure as a massive human rights violator.

Join the growing international campaign to expose JNF involvement in ethnic cleansing and colonisation. Let us co-ordinate our actions to:

  • Research and document JNF's activities, use of funds, and impact, support investigation into JNF funding of and participation in para-statal activities, collect testimonies, produce research reports and publications, write articles, publicize findings, collect land deeds, produce digital stories/videos of testimony and a book of specific cases that highlight JNF role in land confiscation and discrimination as part of a broader system of occupation and colonization
  • Educate: produce printed materials, submit presentations for conferences, organize workshops and public speaking events, coordinate art exhibits, performances and speaking tours, create digital stories based on testimonies
  • Take legal action: challenge the charity status of the JNF and coordinate other judicial review process; support cases against the JNF by Palestinians whose land and property were stolen by the JNF and/or who were dispossessed by the JNF - from 1948 until today
  • Boycott and Disrupt JNF Events: JNF organises fundraisers, delegations, and cultural, educational, sporting and political events
  • Take Direct action: Petitions, letters, poster and sticker campaign, disruption of events, pickets, civil disobedience, demonstrations
  • Produce and leverage mass and grassroots media: submit editorials and articles to print and online journals, organize press conferences, buy advertisement, produce grassroots media, produce and/or screen documentaries, produce and participate in public radio and television series, produce poster campaign
  • Support processes of accountability under international law: participate in review processes being organized by civil organizations to hold Israel accountable under human rights and other international law (i.e. review of Israel for its treaty implementation under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)

Mick Napier
8 June 2011
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Click here
, enter your postcode, identify yourself as a constituent, and click to send the letter. It's as simple as that.  Takes only a moment. JNF fund-raisers for ethnic cleansing should always be protested.  Bonnyton 2010

In November 2010 Aberdeen-based oil and energy company Wood Group signed a contract with Dorad Energy to build a natural gas power station in Ashkelon, Israel. This contract is worth approx £563 million and the 800-megawatt power station will produce 8 per cent of Israel’s electricity in the near future. New gas fields have been discovered within Israel’s off-shore area and Wood Group are intending to expand their operations in Israel; Shlomo Cohen, the Group’s Israel manager recently stated that: “The company considers this project as a cornerstone for extensive operations in Israel”.

Both Wood Group and Israel therefore have seemingly assured and profitable futures. This is in stark contrast to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Just ten miles from the city of Ashkelon lies the border of the Gaza Strip where, in 2010, the people of Gaza endured electricity cuts for 8-12 hours a day. These blackouts are a direct result of Israel, Gaza’s sole supplier of fuel, withholding fuel shipments to the Strip. This has a disastrous impact on the everyday running of essential services such as health and education for a people already on its knees as a result of the blockade of Gaza.

Currently, almost nothing can be exported, meaning that unless a company can sustain itself within the confines of Gaza, it will likely fail. Unemployment in Gaza stands at about 40 per cent, and around 80 per cent of people in Gaza rely on food aid. Egyptian authorities have recently opened the passenger crossing at Rafah, although it is not clear whether goods will be allowed through as well. If goods are to be allowed this represents an important step forward for the people of Gaza but does not alter the fact the Gaza has been driven to humanitarian disaster by the siege. This policy amounts to the collective punishment of the population of the Gaza Strip and therefore illegal under international law.

 

The illegal and violent policies of Israel towards the Palestinians take many other forms. The colonisation of the West Bank robs Palestinians of their natural resources as well as their sovereignty. The increasing Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank makes full use of Palestinian water resources with Palestinians having, on average, access to a third of the per capita water usage of Israelis. This is due to the theft of Palestinian water resources through Israeli control of the major aquifers which they are obliged to share with Palestinians as part of the Oslo Accords.

Major gas deposits have been found off the coast of the Gaza Strip but lie dormant as Israel refuses Palestinians the right to develop and profit from the extraction of these resources. Furthermore, there is a reasonable suspicion that Israel plans to make full use of Gaza’s off-shore gas reserves. This expectation is based upon negotiations held between Israeli representatives and corporations holding contracts for the exploitation of these resources. These discussions include the possibility of connecting the extraction of the gas fields to oil terminals in Israel, including Ashkelon.

Israel continues to violate scores of UN resolutions, including: General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) relating to the right to return of Palestinian refugees; Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) that defines the occupation of Palestinian territories as illegal; Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) which states that Israeli settlements are illegal; and General Assembly Resolution 3236 (1974) that affirms the Palestinian right to self-determination. Importantly, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which established the legal framework for armed conflict and occupation, makes Israel’s population transfer to settlements in the West Bank, collective punishment of the Palestinian population, use of torture, and the destruction of Palestinian property illegal under international law.

Many argue that economic integration and interdependence is the way to peace. However, although the UK government and the European Union have been eager to trade with Israel, they have done little to challenge Israel's human rights record. This is despite the fact that cooperation between Israel and the EU is dependent upon Israeli commitment to the shared values of “democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law and basic freedoms” and progress on conflict resolution.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Veolia, a company targeted for its participation in the construction of a rail network for illegal settlements in Palestine, has been losing major European contracts due to negative publicity and BDS campaign pressure. The company has, as a result, been trying to negotiate its way out of the contract it has in Israel. With the potential for Wood Group to pick up more contracts in Israel, a campaign that links the company to the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine could have the same effect.

A letter from the Aberdeen branch of SPSC to Wood Group raising these issues elicited a less than satisfactory response. The company states that they wish to see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and always abide by international law. Wood Group pointed out that they operate in many places “where there are distressing conflicts which cause hardship and inequity”, but do not wish to become involved in politics or conflicts. Unfortunately for Wood Group, working in a state which systematically denies rights and resources to their neighbours involves them intimately in the conflict. In addition, the real possibility that the facilities Wood Group construct in Ashkelon will be fuelled by resources stolen from Palestinian gas fields, will make the company complicit in the theft of resources.

SPSC Chair Mick Napier has said that “the Wood Group directors are colluding with Israel in a project that goes alongside the theft of resources from the Palestinian people of Gaza. Israel already stands accused by the compelling evidence of the UN Goldstone Report of crimes against humanity. This deal means the walls of their new Aberdeen HQ will be tainted with the blood of murdered Palestinians.”

It must be made clear to firms such as Wood Group who enter into profitable contracts within Israel that they will do damage to their reputation and, in the long-run, to their balance sheet. Just as Wood Group plans to expand its work in Israel, the BDS campaign will continue to expand its campaigns against those who are complicit with the crimes of Israel.

 



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Israel and Settler Society by Lorenzo Veracini

The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not unique -- whatever the news media may suggest. Lorenzo Veracini argues that the conflict is best understood in terms of colonialism. Like many other societies, Israel is a settler society. Looking in detail at the evolution of other colonial regimes -- apartheid South Africa, French Algeria and Australia -- Veracini presents a thoughtful interpretation of the dynamics of colonialism, offering a clear framework within which to understand the middle east crisis.

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